Juventus may look back at last Wednesday’s comeback win against Olympiacos as a turning point. Suffering a poor run of results in October, they needed November to start on the right foot and Paul Pogba’s goal did just that.
It was a significant win not only for Champions League qualification aspirations, but for Massimiliano Allegri to put his stamp on the team. He had experimented with a four man defence in pre-season but largely stuck to Antonio Conte’s 3-5-2 – with his own twist on the style. But in moving to a 4-3-1-2 on Wednesday the team looked rejuvenated.
The Coach kept the premise of that system as Parma visited Juventus Stadium on Sunday in another rain-soaked contest. The midweek defensive struggles did not surface as the Gialloblu offered little in attack. Instead they were put to the sword by a rampant and vibrant Juve which hardly put a foot wrong in 90 minutes of domination.
Parma had ended their long-standing losing streak against Inter and Allegri warned his side to be wary. Especially given the number of absentees – Andrea Pirlo, Kwadwo Asamoah, Andrea Barzagli, Patrice Evra, Martin Caceres, Luca Marrone and the suspended Arturo Vidal all sat out.
But those who took over did so with assurance, the test of depth passed with flying colours. Roberto Pereyra gave balance alongside Carlos Tevez as one of the two deeper attackers and often made forays into dangerous positions. Romulo and Simone Padoin – both making their first starts of the season – showed Allegri they can do a job when called upon. The Italo-Brazilian alternated well with Pogba and kept possession ticking over, while Padoin was chosen ahead of Angelo Ogbonna at left-back and bombed forward effectively, even grabbing an assist.
Manning the right flank, Stephan Lichtsteiner was a standout. His well-taken goal was the topping on a fine performance at right-back. The Swiss Express was full of steam in a role which suits him better than a wing-back role. With more room to utilise Lichtsteiner took advantage, his four crosses up on his season average and he ended with two assists in addition to the goal. With contract extension negotiations ongoing it was a reminder of what he offers.
As he did earlier in the season, Claudio Marchisio played the pivot role in midfield with confidence. He provides a viable alternative to Pirlo and on Sunday was second only to Leonardo Bonucci in the number of passes made, but completed more than anybody on the pitch. Both were up on his season average.
The strikers all impressed on a day when Serie A’s worst defence endured a torrid time. Sunday’s Tuttosport highlighted Allegri’s disappointment Juve were taking eight chances to score a goal and that wastefulness had haunted recently, but Fernando Llorente got the ball rolling with two well-taken finishes signifying a man in a positive mood. Ending his drought, Tevez returns to international duty with Argentina buoyant following a second half brace – his first a wonderful individual effort. Alvaro Morata then celebrated his maiden call-up to the Spain squad by smashing Parma’s crushed spirits further into the turf.
There was even time for substitute Kingsley Coman to have an impact and then for Federico Mattiello to make his debut. Even with numerous injuries Juventus have depth and dangerous players waiting for an opportunity.
And when the Bianconeri play with such confidence, it will take something special to stop them. It’s too early to say whether this system suits Juve to a greater degree, after all Parma are a shadow of their 2013-14 best and Olympiacos posed problems in midweek. Furthermore, Allegri says it will come down to a game-by-game basis. But he has unleashed another weapon in the armoury and as Sunday showed, has a number of players able to execute.